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Expert opinion

MPE 2018 - Towards an open payments ecosystem

Thursday 1 March 2018 | 01:02 PM CET

The Paypers proudly presents the eleventh edition of MPE 2018 – three days of debates, key learnings and insights on the payments industry.

From 20 to 22 February, Berlin, once again, hosted the Merchant Payments Ecosystem, an event that I’m sure doesn’t need a long introduction. Each year, MPE brings together payments professionals and merchants from all over the world to network, discuss and plan the future of the industry. 

This year’s edition had a lot of topics to focus on. We are officially living in the PSD2 era and GDPR is just around the corner – was there ever a better opportunity to talk about data? And data as well as everything it entails, customer experience, omnichannel offerings, artificial intelligence, was a key talking point. 

There is also a change in attitude in the industry, and PSD2’s influence no doubt played a role in driving this change, from competition to collaboration. It seems that the key to success lies in the ability to find the right partners that can add value to your payments offering and solution. 

We are still living in the Big Data age 

Data – the one thing that everyone has but almost nobody knows what to do with it. As David Birch puts it, “we are still living in the Big Data age” – meaning that we have yet to design a valuable use for the data that we currently hold. 

Susan Grossman is EVP, Retail and Commerce solutions at Mastercard Advisors and her presentation introduced two interesting concepts: Big Data and Actionable Big Data. The latter is the kind of data that drives action and adds value.  

Another key takeaway is that Actionable Big Data can give merchants an edge over their digital competitors. It allows businesses to create or adapt their business models based on what customers expect. However, the issue of knowing what works is still a pressing one. In nature, as Susan Grossman began her analogy, Natural Selection determines which species are best suited for their environment. But whereas evolution can take its time, merchants do not have this luxury. The solution? “Business experimentation”- an innovative concept and solution that allows merchants to test business models and trial remodeling strategies in a secure test-like environment. 

Omnichannel challenges for merchants

We love to talk about data as being the golden ticket merchants can use to survive and come on top in the digital age. Knowing your customers is the first step towards knowing what your customers want, which in turn, enables merchants to provide personalized experiences. It seem that in retail, the main battles will be fought in realm of user experience.

However, creating an omnichannel experience is still challenging for many merchants mainly because the online/offline systems do not interact. How can this be solved? Enter transaction data. As Susanne Steidl, CPO at Wirecard, noted, there is a change in the competition from transaction fees to a competition for transaction data. By being at the crossroads of the payments chain, PSPs can extract value from data, enabling merchants to offer a true omnichannel experience. 

Collaboration not competition 

The first C-Level Club discussion, called “Merchant Payments Ecosystem in 2020”, was chaired by David Birch and featured the following speakers: Osama Bedier, Founder & CEO, Poynt; Raymundo Leefmans‚ CEO & Co-Founder, Dimebox; Amy Parsons, SVP, Global Acceptance and CX, Discover Global Network; Ronnie d’Arienzo, Chief Sales Officer, PPRO Group; Niklaus Santschi, CEO, BS PAYONE.

It seems that the general feeling towards regulations such as PSD2 is a positive one. The panelists were optimistic that the new payments directive will promote openness and innovation. This of course, marks a change in attitude from competition to collaboration. 

As banks gradually open up and move towards a platform-like model, this will provide many opportunities for fintechs to collaborate and develop better financial services. The word “disruption” seems to have been slowly… disrupted by a new keyword: “partnerships”. 

David Birch talks with June Felix, Verifone

This opinion was also shared by June Felix, President Europe & Russia at Verifone, who in dialogue with David Birch, talked about the need for an open payments ecosystem in which partnerships will become a dominant force. She also noted that mobile payments will continue to play an increasingly important role – could this be the gateway to a cashless society? 

BLOCKCHAIN IS THE FUTURE!

Now that I have grabbed your attention, I’d like to introduce some key points from the second C-Level Club Discussion panel, also chaired by David Birch and featuring: Suzan Kereere, Head, Global Merchant Client Group, Visa; Seamus Smith, EVP Global Payments & Banking, Sage; Gijs op de Weegh, COO, Payvision; Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly, General Manager Europe, Processors & Networks, ACI Worldwide; Richard Harris, SVP International Sales, Feedzai.

Joking aside, the panelist made some good points about the state of innovation in payments. AI (artificial intelligence) and data analytics are much more advanced that we have initially thought and now we have the technology to allow data profiling. 

Payments are also becoming more and more ubiquitous and embedded in almost every commercial activity. The need for a connected payments and financial ecosystem will lead to the growth in popularity of open APIs. 

Will we all pay with cryptocurrency while shopping with a VR headset on? Not really, but there is a strong interest in Distributed Ledger Technology and no wonder – blockchain use-cases are always popping up and the technology has enjoyed the attention of big names from almost every industry. The general consensus is that, indeed, blockchain has a future. 

A dragon’s den style competition 

On the second day of MPE 2018 Neira Jones chaired a dragon’s den style competition in which five innovative start-ups had the opportunity to showcase their ground-breaking solutions. The demo was followed by “fierce questions” from the jury made up of Melisande Mual, Managing Director, Publisher at The Paypers, Don Ginsel, Founder & CEO at Holland Fintech and Diderik Schonheyder, Managing Director Schonheyder & Associates. The winner was decided by the audience who voted on the MPE app. 

Introducing the contestants: 

KACHING – Represented by Mathias Plank, Founder & CEO. KACHING develops mPOS solutions for retailers who can accept payments, manage warehouses and loyalty programs all via a single platform. 

ID-Pal – Represented by James O’Toole, Founder and CEO. ID-Pal is a SaaS solution for KYC which enables business to verify their customer’s identity simply, securely and conveniently. 

divido – Represented by Christer Holloman, CEO and CO-founder. Divido is a retail finance platform that allows companies to offer instant customer finance at 0% interest. 

CreditClick – Represented by Michael Tailleur, Global Partnership Manager. CreditClick is a new Pan-European alternative payment method that provides an instant credit facility to consumers, allowing merchants to process transactions against 0 MSC, PSPs get an extra revenue channel and Issuers get into an untapped market.

APEXX Fintech – Represented by Toreson Lloyd, CCO. APEXX Fintech makes technical integrations to all the payment suppliers a business needs and presents them as a single, comprehensive API. 

And the winner is…

ID-Pal!

ID-Pal made a good impression on the jury (and on the audience) with their simple-to-use yet comprehensive onboarding tool. KYC and onboarding are pain points of any payments business and their solution makes the entire process simpler both for the user and for the business. 

Apart from the Innovation Corner competition, MPE 2018 also hosted the Gala Awards Ceremony which featured 13 categories. You can check the complete list of winners here.

The MPE Winners

I’ll conclude this long article (which, by the way, only scratches the surface of the entire MPE 2018 event) with a warm and sincere thank you from the entire The Paypers’ team to the folks at Empiria Group, who made this great event possible. We are all happy and grateful for the opportunity and you can bet that you’ll see us at the next year’s event too! 

Thanks for reading and see you next year at MPE 2019! 

About Bogdan Moisa:

Bogdan Moisa is Content Editor at The Paypers with an interest in the online payments and ecommerce landscape. He follows the latest news and developments that are essential for understanding the changes taking place in the industry.

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